How Doctors Can Leverage Mobile Technology For Patient Retention

The mobile wave has engulfed the world and its impact on healthcare has been nothing less than overwhelming. According to a research conducted by Markets and Markets, the mHealth technology market is expected to grow by 33% to cross USD 60 billion by 2020. Another survey by GreatCall showed that 93% of physicians believed that mHealth could contribute greatly to improving patient health. As mHealth cements its place in healthcare, let’s evaluate how doctors can leverage mobile technology for patient retention.

Reduce Wait Times

Long wait times could be listed as one of the biggest banes that patients face when going for a doctors’ appointment. Even with prior appointments, most patients have to wait endlessly to meet their doctors. And often after a seemingly endless wait, the patient is informed during a consultation that they have to come back after conducting a certain battery of tests. This is not only a waste of time for the patient but the doctor as well. With the consumerisation of healthcare, doctors can now leverage mHealth apps to take a look at patient history and intimate them of the tests that need to be done before they even meet them. Further, using mHealth apps, doctors can avoid appointment overlaps and post-appointment confirmation and notifications which ensure a smoother interaction with the patient during his/her physical visit.

Effective Communication

The right mobile apps can play a great role in making the doctor-patient communication more effective. Patients can easily store all their medical records and health history on comprehensive mobile health apps and access them anytime and anywhere. This solves the problem of the missing documents that we ever so often face when meeting with a doctor. With all the information stored in a central repository, doctors can spend the face time with the patients more productively and promote better interactions to manage the patients’ health better. This also leaves the patient more satisfied and less likely to shop around for another doctor.

Better Patient Management

Using mHealth doctors can improve patient management and become more proactive with their patients. Proactive patient management in the form of timely communication regarding patient appointments, important notifications, and updates, post-appointment messages etc. can be delivered to the patient using an app to ensure that the patient does not miss out on any vital piece of information needed to maintain their health. Along with this, doctors can centralise all patient-related information in a central data repository that can be accessed anytime and anywhere which can be of great help to manage a patients’ health remotely.

Pre and Post-Operative Care Management

One of the biggest pain points that patients have is regarding pre and post-operative care. While information is provided to them both regarding pre and post-operative care, it is usually disseminated in one session making it hard to retain the information. Using mobile apps, doctors can send out relevant information to their patients at the right time so that the patients can take the measures both pre and post operation. This not only helps in better health management but also reduces readmission rates and helps in reducing healthcare costs for the patient.

Better Transparency

Patients today demand greater information access. While the healthcare sector has adopted digital technology, they are still trying to play catch up with other sectors such as retail. Patients today demand faster information access regarding their health. Research shows that a majority of healthcare consumers prefer using digital technology to visiting a hospital to get clarifications regarding the care that they are receiving. A 2017 study by American Well states that 26% of patients are likely to change healthcare systems to find a provider offering tele-visits. Doctors leveraging mHealth can help their patients access all the health information they need and proactively answer all questions that go into better health management.

Pre-emptive Care

mHealth applications also provide a treasure trove of data that physicians can leverage for pre-emptive healthcare. Leveraging data analytics, doctors can plan better service delivery dependent on the patient requirement, and analyse and predict health conditions based on the patients’ health records to enable preventive healthcare. Further, doctors can upload tutorials on preventive healthcare and give practical advice to their patients on how to manage their health and health conditions better. All these things help in keeping the patients, the current consumers of healthcare, happy and satisfied as they find doctors becoming more invested in their health.

As they say that numbers do not lie, and going by the adoption rate of mHealth it is becoming clear that this technology trend is not only here but is soon on its way to becoming the enabler of better interactions and better patient outcomes. Using mobile technology doctors can create greater engagement with their patients and enable better outcomes. Patient retention then becomes an automatic consequence of this effort.

Adoption of Technology by Clinics and Small Hospitals – Why and How?

New technologies and innovation are being adopted in all sectors nowadays. The healthcare industry is catching up with this trend too. The growth of technology is enabling faster and efficient diagnosis and treatments for the patients. This means major competition for the smaller players such as clinics and small hospitals. If they still want to be a part of the growing market and retain their businesses, they need to become a part of the technological whirlwind too. Digitisation on small or big levels will help them retain their customers and provide better patient care, quality, and value.

Let us look at the various problems faced by small and medium-sized hospitals –

Limited Infrastructure and Resources:
Small hospitals face a lot of ground level problems. They function with limited resources. Their small budgets allow them to hire only a certain number of doctors, paramedical staff, and technicians. A lot of times, individuals need to take care of multiple roles to share the burden of work. The infrastructure at smaller clinics and hospitals is set up on a very basic level. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 57 countries facing the crisis of limited resources in the health sector, India’s rank is 52nd. In another 100-bed hospital at Jhansi, after 4 pm there was only one nurse to cater to all the 100 patients. The impact of deficiency or lack of efficient resources is seen to affect the overall functioning of any hospital. It puts the personnel under pressure, affects the morale of the health workers, and also affects the overall quality of care.

Unavailability or Ignorance of Information:
With the increasing demand for modern healthcare services, it is vital for doctors and physicians in both big and small hospitals to be able to provide high-level consultation and medication to their patients. In smaller hospitals, this is missing due to their ignorance towards professionalism or the lack of information. Poorly functioning sub-centres, PHCs and CHCs result in people having to depend on the bigger hospitals. Overcrowding in hospitals, lack of outreach, unavailability of standards and norms are some of the other problems that give patients no choice but to not trust their services.

Lack of Organisation:
Larger brands of hospitals are more organised and function uniformly across all departments since they make use of high-quality techniques, equipment, and technology. They avoid paperwork by making use of Hospital Management Systems so that all the relevant information is backed up in a single place. They avoid hard copies of all reports and rely on a single online source of information for faster and timely access. All such things are missing in small hospitals because they, in most cases, do not leverage technology to increase their operational efficacy.

What do hospitals need?
So what can help the small and medium-sized hospitals to change the way they have been functioning? They need to adopt a technological system which can help solve these problems.

  • An easy to use Hospital Management System (HMS) can be implemented so that all the people involved in the hospital, including physicians, doctors, nurses, caretakers, laboratory personnel, pathological department, etc. can understand it and make good use of it.
  • The HMS should be capable of providing the schedules and availability of the physicians within the hospital.
  • The HMS should have scalable architecture and configurable workflows so that tasks such as admissions, bed management, nurse management, insurance management, transfers, returns, eligibility, etc. can be undertaken systematically while ensuring that a record of each of them is maintained.
  • There should also be an option of maintaining a detailed medical history of every patient, which can be available whenever required. This would also help doctors make broad or specific reports for the patients and also use them for decision-making. Doctors will not have to spend hours going through paperwork since all the information will be readily available. Integrated functioning of this HMS will help segregate all the data together in one place.

MARS Plus is one such Healthcare Management Systems, which has been created considering the specific needs of Indian Healthcare system. The interface is designed such that it can be setup quickly depending on the size and requirement of the hospital or clinic. It allows a lot of customisations to help the hospital gain maximum benefit out of it even at low costs.

With digitisation and modernisation, inculcating the smartphone for keeping health records, communication between doctors and patients and sharing of data can help. A lot of apps available in the market today provide options to doctors and physicians to manage their lists of patients, appointments, records, files, budgets, and finances. This can help them save time, become more efficient in terms of data storage, improve their performance and, thereby, have a positive impact on the hospitals as well as the patients they are dealing with. The key is to try to integrate all the aspects of health care management using a single solution to meet all needs.

Adopting technology will provide great scope to small hospitals and clinics to come at par with what rest of the players in the health sector are doing. It will bring about a change in the way they have the functioning and allow faster facilitation of processes and treatments.

Financial Management Best Practices for your Practice

Physicians across the country are starting their private practice every day. While doing this, physicians find themselves not only consulting with patients but also find themselves donning many hats in order to run the practice successfully. From being the administrator to the HR to the finance guy, a doctor pretty much has to focus on all aspects of the practice to make sure it is running profitably and that patients are positively engaged. This challenge becomes greater when a doctor has multiple practices to run. Since financial strength is critical to keep a practice running smoothly here are a few finance management best practices that physicians should follow:

Assess all Charges

For proper financial planning, you need a comprehensive view of the charges of your practice. So, it is essential to identify every service that is performed and capture it in an electronic health management system. All vendors, nurses, technicians, staff should be trained to fill in the EHR documenting what services they provide and ensure that proper coding of the services has been done. You have to make sure that no revenue is left on the table owing to improper procedure documentation or wrong diagnosis codes.

Ensure Productivity

The mathematics here is pretty simple – the more productive your providers are, the more financial success your practice will see. Making sure that you have clear and efficient processes in place that enable productivity by ensuring that the entire healthcare ecosystem is connected across a common platform, requires minimal typing to fill and update records, has a central repository that stores attachments such as x-rays and reports in multiple file formats, are just a few ways to ensure this. Additionally, using a healthcare management system, you can foster collaboration by allowing electronic sharing and tracking of reports, lab orders, prescriptions, patient referrals to save time and increase the productivity of the staff. Medical practices also should ensure that the physician’s time is leveraged productively by making sure they are not double booked with a proper appointment management system that gives a consolidated look at the physician’s multiple schedules across multiple clinics.

Provide Clean and Accurate Insurance Information

Providing clean and accurate insurance information forms and very important part of good finance management practice. Making sure that all

insurance information and processes are in place and that all insurance related information is gathered the first time around should be on priority to ensure that the initial submission happens smoothly. Even the smallest mistake can lead to insurance claim denial which can lead to delayed payments which, in turn, increases costs by impacting the revenue stream. To streamline this process and also to identify areas of improvement in processes and systems it becomes essential to conduct periodic audits.

Warrant Effective Collections and Correct Accounting

Having an effective billing system in place forms the crux of a good finance management system. For this, the billing department of a medical practice should be educated clearly on the collection policies and the processes for the same. Along with collection of money that is entitled to the practice, billing departments also have to be properly guided on how to work on claims denials, follow up on aging claims, the process of collecting claims from patients, how and when to send claims to the collections department and when to write off a bad debt. All practices should have simple processes in place that are straightforward enough to understand and implement so that there is minimal resistance during documentation which is essential for compliance.

Implement Correct Accounting and Compliance

You cannot talk about finance management without speaking of proper accounting and compliance. Given that the current healthcare ecosystem has to navigate a rather treacherous compliance landscape, it becomes all the more essential to maintain proper records of all income and expenses. All inflows from multiple clinics, referrals, endorsements, consultation fees, transactions that happen on a daily basis should be properly documented. This will not only ensure that the end of year audits are completed without issues and taxes are filed correctly but also guarantee complete regulatory compliance.

Maximize Revenue Opportunities

Good finance management for medical practices should also look at avenues to maximize revenues. Evaluating contractor payer rates, negotiating best rates with vendors and maintaining cost structures become important components in maximizing revenue opportunities. Further, reviewing costs such as supplies, phone contracts, operational expenses and liability

insurance periodically helps in weeding out unnecessary outflows and increasing revenues.

Paying close attention to finance management aids the success of any medical practice. Ensuring that day to day operations are conducted smoothly are critical to implementing long-term financial goals and also to ensure long-term viability of any practice.

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